I have a Master’s degree in Coaching & Mentoring, and I’m a Certified Coach, trained by Dr. Martha Beck and the Coaches Training Institute.
I became a coach after almost twenty years of leading big risky changes in organisations. And facing the crucibles in my life: grief, loss and longing.
My own transformation path has led me right to you.
First, some back story…
When I was five, I was in the Red Group at my tiny village school in New Zealand, because I was best at reading. I had to sit at the front of the class because I was also best at talking. And questioning. Everything. All the time.
I have a boundless curiosity for words and people, stories and ideas.
At university I studied psychology, philosophy, poetry, feminism, theology and politics; consequently, I’m a fabulous dinner party guest. I also learnt not ever to let anyone cut your hair, in exchange for a Smiths CD.
But no amount of book learning could prepare me for the sudden death of my beloved mother, one random Tuesday in 2002.
A year later came the equally unceremonious end of my marriage.
Grief-struck and sad, I raged against the universe for all the ways I had been wronged. During the day, I was leading big complex change projects; while at night, I resorted to my lifelong default of food and wine to numb out my too-hard-to-feel feelings. I spent a lot of time in my little London flat, thinking.
Then I had a LOT of therapy.
I decided I did not want this to be my story.
Instead, I decided to say yes. Often.
And I found myself playing cards until 3 am with several German backpackers in an underground Estonian bar, exploring the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and running with bulls in Pamplona. I was woken by the call to prayer in a Marrakech riad, kayaked the Cares Gorge and climbed the Picos Mountains in Northern Spain. I watched the sun set in Santorini, attended the dawn service at ANZAC Cove, and survived a snowstorm in the Swiss Alps with cider, strudel and uno. I crossed the Charles Bridge in Prague and backpacked around Italy for weeks; I compared the breakfast pastries of New York, Bruges, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Paris and had my luggage lost every single time I flew Iberia airlines.
My pendulum had swung from ‘Woman Curled Up in a Ball’, to ‘Most Likely to Skinny Dip’ for half a dozen years of exhausting, brilliant fun.
But I knew I was a disembodied head chasing the next high.
Work, pinot noir, shopping and one too many adventures with infelicitous lovers — it was all an Olympic-level exercise in staying busy, to avoid being alone and facing the truth: that I felt broken, disconnected and angry, often with a little guilt and shame sprinkled on top. Neat.
It wasn’t until I stopped trying to outrun vulnerability and uncertainty that I really started to heal.
Utterly knackered, I went home to New Zealand to rest. Staying still allowed me to breathe out. I began to feel the feelings I had been working really hard to avoid.
I allowed myself to grieve Mum, my marriage and all the things I thought I would have done by the time I was 35.
It felt epically crappy. But I knew it was real. I opened myself up to the whole spectrum of emotions, and everything transformed.
Over time I was able to love all of my story; heart-shaking losses, and cringe-worthy mistakes included.
I began writing online in 2007 and found myself connecting with the most amazing people. A magical alchemy of healing and learning came from sharing, and it’s no small truth to say that blogging changed my life.
I found myself, my voice, and eventually, my way home to a life I couldn’t have dreamed up.
For years I was a ‘stealth blogger’ writing anonymously from behind my office cubicle. The bloggers I followed were fascinating, whole-hearted, smart; they generously shared the mess and brilliance of real life, experimenting with words and telling stories; there was a sense of really knowing and caring about each other.
Writing in those days was exhilarating, it was like being part of a secret club. A family.
‘the minds I love most must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in
the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody
fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind’ – Katherine Mansfield
At the time it felt mad to say that my little blog gave my life meaning. But it felt true. I think it meant so much because for all those years while I was climbing the corporate ladder, I felt so empty.
I was longing for something I couldn’t describe: in a state of limbo – split between the external trappings of a ‘successful’ life, and the ache for true meaning and fulfilment. I was trying to make sense of (control) everything: holding together a family in pain, trying to find my place in our new marriage, commuting every day with three million other Londoners; feeling alive and broken and destined to get my boss’ job. I felt helpless to change anything.
But two inexplicable events changed me.
In 2012 during a moment of pure helpless anger I stood outside and alone on a frosty night and looked up at a clear night sky. Without warning, any sense of ‘me’ suddenly disappeared. For a few seconds, I felt myself embody both the sky and the earth: I was that and it was me and I was immense. It was the weirdest bloody thing.
I felt like God had looked down at me at the time in my life, with my controlling, judgemental, sarcastic, often-inebriated emotional armour and said ‘oh lovely that’s adorable’ and smacked me upside the head. It woke me up to all the ways I was betraying myself. And it set me on this path to the second half of my life.
I discovering coaching very soon after and it felt like coming home to me. I’ve spent the last few years learning, growing and evolving my coaching practice.
In 2014 I had heart surgery and during the procedure, a defibrillator was needed to stop and restart my heart. After this literal ‘reboot’, I felt utterly different. I knew some profound shift had happened.
After years of being unable to get still, I had an unarguable urge to learn to meditate. I began to talk out loud to God when I was walking in the woods. To be open to all of it. Two of my closest friends fell out of my life with little explanation. I repaired some deep old wounds with my father. New ideas and inspiration and work and clients came to me.
It was confusing and beautiful, sad and exhilarating.
I’ve meditated every day since: it’s both as prosaic as brushing my teeth, and the most profound relationship of my life. In this stillness, I quietly connect to something that I can’t honestly explain. But it feels like the best kind of connection: sacred, comforting, intimate and at times hilarious.
And now I am here: sober, awake, open and without all of my shit together, mostly in the flow of a fulfilling life.
My work is about helping others find their way home to themselves.
My aim to provide a safe and welcoming place where all of you is welcome. I’m not the kind of coach that shares inspirational quotes and you won’t see me offering up five-step solutions to complex and nuanced issues. But I am fascinated by the experience of being human.
My coaching is a mindful, experiential and integrative approach to exploring the narratives that have helped shape your interior life and your relationships.
Your story is remarkable to me. I can’t wait to get to know you better.